Can You Be Guilty of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Without Making Contact?

In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the defendant’s conviction of leaving the scene of an accident even though the defendant may not have actually made contact with the victim.

In State v. Sene, the Court wrote: “Defendant’s conviction arose out of the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a jitney bus while crossing Pacific Avenue, a four-lane street, in Atlantic City. Defendant was driving a taxi in the lane to the left of the jitney, traveling in the same direction, slightly ahead of the jitney bus. The victim was crossing Pacific Avenue as both defendant’s taxi and the jitney bus were approaching. She was either struck by the taxi and fell backwards, or stepped back without being struck and fell, and was run over by the jitney.” State v. Sene, A-2256-13T1 (November 25, 2015).

The defendant eventually left the scene of the accident without speaking with the police.

The relevant part of statute for the criminal offense of leaving the scene of the accident reads: “A motor vehicle operator who knows he is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident under circumstances that violate the provisions of R.S.39:4-129 shall be guilty of a crime of the second degree if the accident results in the death of another person.” N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1.

Therefore, a defendant can be involved in an accident without making contact with a victim and be found guilty under 2C:11-5.1.

If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, there still are defenses that may be available to you. The State would still have to prove the elements of the statute that you knew you were involved in an accident and that you knowingly left the scene.

If you were charged with any violations as a result of a motor vehicle accident, it is critical that you speak with an attorney about your rights.

Call Jason T. Komninos, Esq. at (201) 343-4622 to schedule a consultation.